The current developments in the Greater Middle East provoke many experts and analysts to reflect their genuine nature, since this the most important subregion reaches a point of bifurcation after which it would hardly be affordable to turn the flow back.
Generally, the explanation of the developments can be reduced to several major versions.
First version is incidental and uncoordinated events stream
The first version looks quite attractive through its simplicity and convenience. Indeed, what could be simpler? Washington, London, Brussels, Moscow, and Beijing are so confused and got absorbed in playing, that the situation spun out of control and went with the flow. Extremist groups are playing for own particularistic interests, regional powers are trying to stop them, and the USA with NATO allies are seemingly helping in this matter.
At a glance, the picture is clear, but there are many questions left behind. For instance, supposing to possess tremendous resources, why Western nations cannot stop advancement of radical groups like ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusra? Moreover, sometimes militants obtain support – either “by mistake” (as in a case of ISIL), or even specifically targeted (involvement of al-Nusra within the Jaish al-Fath alliance in confrontation with Damascus).
Or else, why NATO is not able to put the heat on its Turkish member or help to shut down the borders with Syria in order to cut off continuous flow of ISIL newcomers at least? The more is the incomprehensible, how Turkey can easy sell as much volume of natural sources even to smugglers? It is hard to believe that no one can cease this illegal business – this is a manifesting absurdity for the modern high-tech epoch.
In addition, we cannot fail to ask, why Washington suddenly changed its approach to Iran – the first and central enemy for American interests in the Middle East. At the same time, relations with old and close allies represented by the Gulf monarchies has changed skin. For instance, the White House set ultimatum to Bahrain, where the United States Fifth Fleet is situated, threatening to relocate naval vessels to another place. There are quite a lot questions of this kind to be asked. And unfortunately the version of accidental and uncontrolled chaos doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, if one looks at it with objective even naked eye. It is hard to doubt that a part of ongoing processes in the least is controlled by certain powers.
The second version is reformatting of the region for the sake of Obama’s ruling team
No doubt, the second version seems to be more concrete and logical. Indeed, the American President is not a lone wolf. There are certain powers and families or, if you wish, “a crew” that stand for him, and whom he presents. This is as much obvious as the fact that lone person in this position and in this kind of state is doomed to failure. Such individual would not even reach the ladder of powers.
In this way, if not to miss this axiom, the following conclusion comes to mind – taking reins of yet the leading world power, “Obama’s crew” starts to promote not only all-American interests, but personal concerns as well. And if one takes into account that the crew came to power after two presidential terms of George W. Bush, who represented radically different constituencies, then it is necessary to assume that interests of these powers are quite different.
One of these contradictory interests is the oil industry. It is well known that the Bush clan and neoconservatives, which, de facto, ran the White House before Obama, are strongly tied up with all oil related. So, is it a surprise that this power stood up for the Iraq invasion? After gaining such a large petroliferous territory, neocons-republicans established there a controlled regime.
If one get a sight of the full picture of that times, he/she might see that many of Arab (and not only) states are republicans-oriented: Ben Ali’s Tunis, Mubarak’s Egypt, Saleh’s Yemen, and, of course, such Gulf monarchies like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
So, what has been changed since Obama came to power? The listed facts speak for themselves:
- Regimes in Tunis, Yemen and Egypt were displaced (though, in Egypt it is likely to be a military coup d’etat)
- Muammar Gaddafi (who was not directly controlled neither of the two parties) was murdered in Libya
- Violent fightings continue in Syria (Official Damascus is not controlled either, and moreover, Syrian authorities are ally of Iran)
- Al-Maliki, who came to powered at the point of the Washington’s bayonet in the time of Bush, resigned in Iraq.
It is much more than that yet. During the Obama’s presidency, pro-republicans regimes were replaced in Georgia (Saakashvili), Kosovo (Taci), Afghanistan (Karzai) and etc. Almost everywhere the “post-Bush” Washington not only made no sign about regimes’ change, but indeed, quite often greeted and even supported these changes. It is hard to explain these facts only referring that the regimes were obsolete and for this reason disagreeable. Consistency is obvious. Everything becomes clear when geopolitical actors are sorted out. And even ultimatum to Bahrain is kept within this quite clear picture.
Third version is intentional creating of new conflicts to bind hands of geopolitical rivals
Yet, it is hard to explain fully the modern developments only with a geopolitical competition, and there are several reasons for that. Particularly, it should be recalled that there are another powers besides the both inter-American actors. For instance, European Union. Of course, the USA play a significant role in European structures. However, the White House is no longer capable to keep a tight rein on EU. For this reason, there are voices that heard and even efforts carried out in order to get out of American control.
There are a considerable number of Europeans who are displeased with American hegemony, all the more reason this is true for population of Russia, China, Latin American countries, India, Iran, RSA and others. Each of these countries is a regional power, and their alliance within a subnational structure constitutes a big menace to American interests thus. Therefore, instituting control or even weakening each of these countries (it is better – all at once) is one of the main foreign-policy objectives of the White House. This might be archived in many ways – from political and economic to trite military.
Developments in Macedonia, where government had taken unsuitable position for Washington on pipelines, might be considered as an example of political methods. Notably, representatives of the American diplomatic mission in the country almost openly support the local opposition. Economic instruments are experienced by the Russian population since antecedent year. Sanctions against Russia not only phased down, but even more intensified. At that, the sanctions hit Europe along with Russia, killing two birds with one stone.
Lobbying favorable energy supply projects should not go unmentioned as kind of economic pressure of Washington. On the other hand, there are forcings of recession from pipelines that threat the USA hegemony in the world. Many experts consider this factor as one of the basic for most of armed conflicts and confrontations. And it is very likely that these opinions are quite true, despite economic circumstances in the USA are so, that pipelines routes alterations could hardly save the national economy.
It is not a secret that the White House does not mask its face in political and economic spheres. But military actions are different. This is one of the main specificities that differs Obama’s crew from neoconservatives. The later often force their way, roughly crushing everything crossing their path, ignoring international response and trendy waste as well. But current American administration acts in different way. There is the Libyan conflict as an example, where neocons would most likely climb with hands and feet, but Obama’s crew only pushed right buttons.
Hence, we can conclude that the White House, on one side, uses indirect military impacts to support or change regimes, and, on the other side, creates long-run flashpoints in order to restrain and weaken geopolitical rivals.
The last assertion insensibly acquires visible traits. For instance, military operations in Ukraine tie hands of both Russia and Europe. Moreover, this conflict repels Russia and the EU, causing economic pressure and retards the Eurasian Union development.
Creating chaos in Libya, Iraq and Syria leads to increased flow of refugees to Europe. As a result, Europeans has begun a military campaign against smugglers, what indicates more than serious problems that faced the EU.
War in Yemen involved Saudi Arabia and, partly, some other states. At the same time, Yemen conflict is uncommon and ambiguous in many respects. However, the most important is that for some countries, first of all for Saudi Kingdom, this conflict may lead to serious consequences.
Agency for geopolitical research “Manara”